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Long-time real estate developer and CEO of the LeFrak Organization Richard LeFrak is stepping down from his leadership role at the company, he told The Jersey Journal.

“I am going to be 78 years old,” LeFrak told The Jersey Journal. “There is a time when you have to take a step back. The next generation has to have the experiences of making decisions and living with what they do.”

The family business started in France in 1883 with Harry Lefrak, Richard LeFrak’s grandfather, who moved to New York in the early 1900s. (The senior Lefrak chose to Americanize his name with a lowercase “f” — subsequent generations restored the capital “f” to emphasize their French heritage.)

Harry Lefrak’s son Sam took over the business in 1948 after completing a degree in engineering at the University of Maryland, and went on to convert a swath of swampy land in Queens into Lefrak City, a complex of 20 18-story towers with 5,000 apartments and 15,000 residents, plus two million square feet of retail space.

Sam LeFrak also went on to develop notable projects throughout his career, including the 1,800-unit Gateway complex in Battery Park City and buying up run-down railyards in Jersey City in the ’70s to develop Newport.

Richard adopted a role as president of the organization in 1975, and then became CEO when Sam passed away in 2003.

While Sam LeFrak developed a reputation for his boisterous personality, Richard cultivated a more quiet leadership persona during his tenure.

“I used to say, ‘How did Sam produce such a gem?'” Donald J. Trump, a friend of Richard’s, told The New York Times in 2007. “That’s not a knock on Sam, who was a rough-and-tough guy inside and out. Richard’s a very strong guy, but he doesn’t show it the way Sam did.”

Over the years the LeFrak Organization has become one of the biggest apartment landlords in and around New York City, becoming known for moderate-income tenant apartments. The company also expanded into South Florida, Los Angeles and other parts of the West Coast in recent years, tapping into the luxury market.

Richard LeFrak, who has Parkinson’s Disease, said he would continue working at the company as his sons, Jamie and Harrison, go on to lead the family business.

Two of the company’s in-progress projects currently include 30 Park Lane North, a 33-story 391-unit residential tower in Jersey City, and SoLe Mia, a 193-acre mixed use project with 5,999 residential units, 258,200 square feet of office space, 176,100 square feet of retail space and about 250 hotel rooms.

During the Jersey City Summit real estate event on Monday, LeFrak told The Real Deal publisher Amir Korangy that he’d like politicians to know “Not every developer is the devil.”

In 2023, LeFrak made No. 766 on Forbes’ Billionaires list and in 2022, he made No. 271 on the Forbes 400 list. LeFrak’s net worth is currently $3.4 billion, according to Forbes.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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